Thursday, May 21, 2015

Why does the NFL allow each team to supply its own footballs?

Mike Bianchi asks in the Orlando Sentinel,
Did the NFL look the other way for years while quarterbacks used performance-inducing balls much like MLB had its head buried in the on-deck circle while sluggers brazenly bulked up on performance-enhancing drugs?

Why do you think the league listened to Brady, Manning and the NFL's other top quarterbacks back in 2006 when they successfully lobbied the league for a rule change that would allow each team to supply its own footballs? Do you think the Competition Committee would have listened if the league's top cornerbacks or linebackers had lobbied them?

"The thing is, every quarterback likes it [the ball[ a little bit different," Brady told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel back in 2006. "Some like them blown up a little bit more, some like them a little more thin, some like them a little more new, some like them really broken in."

And some like them illegally deflated, too, which shouldn't be surprising to anyone. Good grief, allowing NFL quarterbacks to supply their own balls would be like allowing NASCAR crew chiefs to supply their own restrictor plates. Except the NFL — like Major League Baseball with steroids — wants us to believe now that it had no earthly idea players and teams might actually cheat to gain an unfair advantage.

The most under-reported story during the entire Deflategate saga came when the Tampa Bay Times reported in January that former Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback Brad Johnson bribed some ball boys and paid them $7,500 to scuff up the balls that were used during Tampa Bay's 2003 Super Bowl victory over the Oakland Raiders.

"I paid some guys off to get the balls right," Johnson told the Times. "I went and got all 100 footballs, and they took care of all of them."

Sorry, but I simply cannot believe a multi-billion-dollar industry like the NFL is so stupid that it couldn't foresee cheating when it allowed its most important piece of equipment — the actual ball itself — to be supplied by the two participating teams. And it certainly doesn't make any sense that the league would leave its precious Super Bowl balls in the care of some poor schlubs who can be bought off for $7,500.

...The NFL's performance-inducing balls are no different than MLB's performance-enhancing drugs. Football fans loved seeing Manning and Brady setting offensive records just as baseball fans loved seeing McGwire and Sosa chasing home run records.

Hulked-up players bulked up baseball's bottom line just as deflated balls induced football's inflated TV ratings.
Read more here.

“Happy wife, happy life.”

Do you expect your husband to mess up? And when he does, do you call him out on it and without reservation?
Given this kind of negative reinforcement over time, he feels like nothing he can do is right (in your eyes). If he’s confident with himself and who he is, he’ll come to resent you. If he’s at all unsure about himself, he’ll start to believe you, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Neither one is a desirable, beneficial outcome to you, him or the marriage.

Jason Stevens at the Federalist links to a story at tickldwritten by a woman who suddenly realizes she has been doing this to her husband for a long time. She writes,
I started thinking about what I’d observed with my friends’ relationships, and things my girlfriends would complain about regarding their husbands, and I realized that I wasn’t alone. Somehow, too many women have fallen into the belief that Wife Always Knows Best. There’s even a phrase to reinforce it: “Happy wife, happy life.” That doesn’t leave a lot of room for his opinions, does it?

It’s an easy stereotype to buy into. Look at the media. Movies, TV, advertisements – they’re all filled with images of hapless husbands and clever wives. He can’t cook. He can’t take care of the kids. If you send him out to get three things, he’ll come back with two — and they’ll both be wrong. We see it again and again.
Read more here.

Training yourself to take more action

More wisdom from the guest post from Kyle Eschenroeder at The Art of Manliness. More overlooked truths about taking action:
8. Action Beats the Odds. You don’t need to know if it will work (you probably can’t know), you need to try and find out.

Your obstacles are yours to face. It doesn’t matter how they compare to the obstacles in history or those of your peers. It’s a waste of time to consider anything except how you will overcome them.

9. Action Makes You Humble. Teenagers think they know everything because they haven’t tested their mettle. They don’t know anything and so they feel like they know everything. They are just beginning to learn about theories and possibilities. They haven’t done anything so they feel like they can do anything.

After the young realize they can’t do everything they become disillusioned. They stop trying anything. They fall into inaction.

This is why most adults end up so dull. They don’t do anything because it’s probably going to fail. They mistook early failures for a sign that they should stop trying.

That’s why they’re bored, depressed, and lethargic.

Instead, our failures should strengthen us. We should recognize that failures are how we learn and grow.

10. Action Isn’t Petty

Eschenroeder offers two specific ways you can train yourself to take more action.

I. Systems Over Goals
If you train yourself to be emotionally rewarded for actions taken rather than outcomes you may be able to lengthen the time you can spend in active “failure” and increase your chances of success.

A possible solution is to reward yourself for following your system rather than achieving a specific outcome. Select a system you know will lead to success and follow it.

Eating right vs. losing 20 pounds. Building a business vs. achieving financial independence. Going on dates vs. having a successful relationship. The first are systems, the second are goals.

Scott Adams, the creator of “Dilbert,” champions this idea in How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big:

“Goal-oriented people exist in a state of continuous pre-success failure at best, and permanent failure at worst if things never work out. Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems, in the sense that they did what they intended to do. The goals people are fighting the feeling of discouragement at each turn. The systems people are feeling good every time they apply their system. That’s a big difference in terms of maintaining your personal energy in the right direction.”

II. Input Deprivation Week

Go an entire week with zero information consumption.

For one week:

No reading books.
No reading blogs.
No reading newspapers.
No going on Facebook (even just to post).
No watching TV (shows, sports, news, anything).
No watching movies.
No listening to talk radio.
No going on Reddit.
No going on Twitter.
No information input – only output!

This will, first and foremost, force you into action by stripping away every activity you run to in order to avoid actually doing the work you know you should be doing.

Besides that, it will increase mindfulness, increase the respect you have for your own ideas, you’ll have more ideas, unsolvable life problems may begin to make sense, you’ll have an increased appreciation for the news that actually matters, you’ll become more social, you’ll gain perspective, and you’ll become more original.

Remember that this is only a week and not a suggestion for a lifestyle. I love books. I love learning new things. I consume information like crazy. And it’s valuable! Input Deprivation Week is about creating a better relationship with information, not denying its importance.
Read more here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Do it!

Instapundit linked to a guest post by Kyle Eschenroeder at The Art of Manliness. Eschenroeder writes,
That’s where we are as a culture. We run desperately to abstraction and avoid action at all costs.

...We judge men based on what they have instead of what they do.

...Modern man has forgotten how to take action.
Eschenroeder provides 10 powerful and mostly overlooked truths about the nature of action:
1. Action is Cheaper Than Planning. ...Most of the time, planning is procrastination. It’s based on theory. It’s going to be wrong.

Plans are useless without action.

That’s why Step 1 is to take action based on what you already know. Then improve bit by bit. Then begin forming a plan.

2. Action Allows Emergence. ...If you’re obese then you probably don’t see a possible future where you’re fit. But, after three months of working out and eating well there will be a possible future of physical fitness that didn’t exist before.

These possibilities seem to “come out of nowhere” but they actually come out of action.

3. Inaction is Scarier...The pain that comes with action is acute, gives you scars, and makes you grow.

The pain that comes from inaction is low-grade, makes you soft, and makes you decay.

4. Motivation Follows Action...I don’t feel like working out until I’ve been at the gym for 15 minutes. I’m too tired to have sex until we’ve started. I don’t want to go to the party until I’m there.

Motivation (and passion) will follow you if you have the balls to go without them.

5. Action is an Existential Answer...It is only in the flow of action that life can make sense.

6. Action Creates Courage
7. Explanations Follow Actions

Keep reading here, but most importantly, take action!

Progress in predicting Alzheimer's

Pam Belluck writes in the New York Times,
The largest analysis to date of amyloid plaques in people’s brains confirms that the presence of the substance can help predict who will develop Alzheimer’s and determine who has the disease.

Two linked studies, published Tuesday in JAMA, also support the central early role in Alzheimer’s of beta amyloid, the protein that creates plaques. Data from nearly 9,500 people on five continents shows that amyloid can appear 20 to 30 years before symptoms of dementia, that the vast majority of Alzheimer’s patients have amyloid and that the ApoE4 gene, known to increase Alzheimer’s risk, greatly accelerates amyloid accumulation.

The findings also confirm that amyloid screening, by PET scan or cerebral spinal fluid test, can help identify people for clinical trials of drugs to prevent Alzheimer’s.
Read more here.

After all, what are old friends for?

John Tabin writes in the New York Post about Hillary's "old friend" Sidney Blumenthal. It was Blumenthal that developed and circulated the lie that poor Bill Clinton was a victim of stalking by Monica Lewinsky. There is also a Libyan connection.

Bitter-hearted leftism

Tonight is David Letterman's last show. Ace of Spades, a fan of Dave's in Dave's early years, came tostrongly dislike the Dave of later years:
And then, of course, the cheating, the intern, the out of wedlock child, the weird marriage (which he all but openly confessed on camera he wasn't that into, as if I, or anyone else, needed to know that), and more and more overt (and contemptuous) expressions of his bitter-hearted leftism.
I couldn't agree more.
Read more here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Inherent Resolve

Mark Stein weighs in on the events in Ramadi:
The Pentagon has an unrivaled comic genius when it comes to naming its operations. General Weidley is Chief of Staff, Joint Task Force for "Operation Inherent Resolve". If one had to name the single quality most obviously lacking in local ground forces, in the "60-nation coalition" and in US strategists, that would be it. Iraqi troops fled their US-supplied government buildings and then, at the edge of town, abandoned their US-supplied Humvees to melt into the local population, hopefully with nothing US-supplied about their person to give them away. The Humvees and the buildings are now in the hands of Isis. That's the great thing about taking on a "60-nation coalition". When you roll over them in nothing flat, the stuff they leave behind is world-beating state-of-the-art.

Almost exactly twelve years ago, I spent two days in Ramadi - one coming, one going. I wandered around the streets, browsed the shops, ate in the cafes, all in the same suit-and-tie get-up you can see me in on stage and telly. And I got the odd surly look but no beheading. Because, in the spring of 2003, the west was still believed to be serious. Now they know we're not.

...And, of course, when you let one enemy know you're not serious, everyone else gets the message, too - from Putin in the Ukraine to Beijing in the South China Seas to Assad bringing his temporarily mothballed chemical weapons up from the basement to every ragtag jihadist militia minded to overrun a US consulate.

What does Isis on "the defensive" look like? They're now in Afghanistan, and controlling Libyan seaports. Any reason why they should stop there? From today's Daily Mirror:

Terror group Islamic State are using human trafficking gangs to smuggle militant extremist to the west.

The jihadi organisation is utilising the Mediterranean refugee crisis to sneak their fighters into Europe, an investigation has revealed.

Intelligence sources say ISIS are working with the cruel people-smuggling network to hide terrorists, bent on destruction, on boats among stricken refugees.

Experts claim ISIS is also capitalising on the emergency in the region to fund its terrorist activities by taxing people smugglers.

Abdul Basit Haroun, an adviser to the intelligence service of the Libyan government, said he had spoken to boat owners who operate in IS-controlled areas who told him the group takes a 50 per cent cut of their income.

The Mirror and the rest of Fleet Street are tapdancing around the genius of what Isis is doing: They conquer territory, terrorizing the locals, beheading and raping on an industrial scale, and sending millions fleeing - and then, having caused a "humanitarian catastrophe", they turn it into a cash cow. In effect, Isis is now running the humanitarian rescue from Isis. They're simultaneously the Nazis and Schindler - if Schindler's list were full of crack German agents he were smuggling into Britain. Which is a hell of a business model.

...A state needs territory, but Isis doesn't. Having stolen everything it wants, killed everyone it hates and destroyed everything in sight, it can abandon Ramadi for new killing fields. The Islamic State is less a state than a state of mind.

...Then again, most western nations are not states, either - not in the conventional Westphalian sense of coherent entities pursuing state strategy. Unlike Britain, America has chosen to run its global order not through conventional expressions of national interest (the British Empire) but through post-Westphalian institutions - the IPCC for "climate change", the "60-nation coalition" for war. The UN-style post-state model strikes me as all but useless. By comparison Islamic imperialism has come up with a form of post-state transnationalism that's boundlessly flexible, encompassing conventional war, global crime syndicates, and the ability to spontaneously ignite "lone wolves" from Sydney to Copenhagen to Garland, Texas.

Meanwhile, our official no-Islam-to-see-here brings only the certainty of further retreat. Even if one accepts the view that this is a "tiny minority" of "bad apples", absolving Islam of responsibility for the cancer that nests within it ensures that there's nothing left to do but what Liddell Hart tells us is strategically pointless: bomb vehicles and buildings. And, given that western taxpayers paid for those vehicles and buildings, it's even more stupid.

Where's our wit and nimbleness and "ability to reconfigure on the fly"? After 14 years, we've learned nothing. Announcing another 473 bazillion sorties and marveling at how swimmingly the US-funded Iraqi Army Please-Don't-Run-Away-Quite-So-Quickly Program is going is not only a sign that we're losing, but that we don't even know enough to know we're using the wrong metrics.
Read more here.

The warrior spirit

About the bikers in Waco...Chateau Heartiste asks,
Anyone else notice that many of the biker gang members were middle-aged men? It’s like the last dying gasp of unfettered testosterone in this fractured nation. We’ve reached a nadir when the warrior spirit lives on in an aging generation, assuming the duties of the androgynous generations to follow.

An unhinged kook

At the Federalist Ben Domenech believes that Lindsey Graham is an unhinged kook who doesn't deserve to be taken seriously.
In more senses than one, Graham takes after John C. Calhoun – a warhawk with progressive views of government and an ahistorical view of the Constitution whose primary motivation, first and last, is power.
Read more here.

Leading from behind

Max Boot writes at Commentary,
“Leading from behind” is a bad enough strategy when America’s allies take the lead. It is an utterly ruinous strategy when America’s enemies take the lead. But that’s what is now happening in Iraq.

Obama has sent fewer than 3,000 trainers and they are confined to base and prohibited from going out and directly recruiting, training, and arming Sunni tribesmen. Nor, of course, are they allowed to personally call in air strikes from the frontlines; they have to depend on Iranian-dominated Iraqi security forces and aerial imagery to tell them what to bomb. US aid flows through the government of Baghdad, which, despite a change of prime ministers, remains for the most part dominated by Iran and its proxies. Instead of trying to rebuild the Iraqi army, shattered by the fall of Mosul nearly a year ago, the Baghdad regime is encouraging the recruitment of Shiites into sectarian militias closely aligned with Iran. In the guise of fighting ISIS, Iran is taking over most of Iraq.

The fight against ISIS is in even worse shape in Syria where there is no credible ground force—none—that can challenge Islamic State, which is why its domains have actually expanded since US bombing began last August. The US is only now training a company—i.e., roughly one hundred men—from the Free Syrian Army in the hope that somehow they will be able to defeat Islamic State’s army, which is estimated to number more than 20,000. That kind of thing happens in action flicks like “The Expendables” or “The Dirty Dozen,” not in real life.

Far from being on a path to defeat, ISIS appears stronger than ever notwithstanding the anemic American assault. And yet all last week presidential candidates have been forced to opine on a historic question—whether or not they would have authorized the invasion of Iraq given all that we now know. The real debate we should be having is not what we should have done in 2003 but what we should do now, today, to defeat ISIS and Iran—the twin forces, mirror images of one another — that are ripping the Middle East asunder. All of the candidates, including the silent Hillary Clinton, need to tell us what they would do.

And President Obama, who remains commander in chief, needs to go on television and explain to the American people where the war effort stands and what if anything he is going to do differently. If the answer is “things are going fine” and “we’re not going to do anything differently,” he will be repeating the very mistake that President George W. Bush made from 2003 to 2007 when he was lulled by over-optimistic reports from PowerPoint-happy military commanders. A losing war effort only began to reverse itself in places such as Ramadi once Bush acknowledged that we were on the edge of the abyss.

Today we are fast falling into an ever worse abyss—and it is one to which, by all indications, President Obama and his senior military commanders and civilian aides are utterly blind. Perhaps we should be talking about that rather than about what happened 12 years ago.
Read more here.
As Glenn Reynolds puts it at Instapundit,
The press is asking about 2003 to give Obama cover for his policy failures now. And not for any other reason.

They don't seem to want it, and we don't want them

Roger L. Simon writes,
Imagine if a Republican had insisted he or she couldn’t have two email accounts on one smartphone. Forget the presidency, they wouldn’t be allowed to run for dogcatcher. Crucifixion by media!)

...although in slightly different ways, Hillary and Jeb both seem as if they don’t want to be there. And aside from a few feminists still wearing faded Gloria Steinem t-shirts from their 1972 era consciousness raising groups (happily with bras now), I don’t think many of us want them to be there either.

An idea for wealthy conservatives to consider

Elizabeth Price Foley writes,
Yep, it’s the LIVs Low Information Voters) who fail to realize they are being brainwashed by mainstream media “journalists” and Marxist professors who keep this “us against them” tactic alive.
What is her solution?
Conservatives need to increase their ranks in the media and the academy, or none of this can change. If the Koch brothers or other wealthy libertarian/conservatives really wanted to help change things, they would start endowing some U.S. civic and history programs at the secondary school level, funding academic positions in universities for those who possess libertarian/conservative views, and buying major newspapers (and ensuring that its editorial board was not leftist). These investments would buy more bang for the buck than all the white papers in the world.

Does Clinton convicted billionaire pedophile friend Jeffrey Epstein have friends in high places in the media?



From Alexandra Wolfe at Daily Beast:
On the evening of December 2nd, 2010, a handful of America's media and entertainment elite—including TV anchors Katie Couric and George Stephanopoulos, comedienne Chelsea Handler, and director Woody Allen—convened around the dinner table of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. It wasn't just any dining room, but part of a sprawling nine-story townhouse that once housed an entire preparatory school. And it wasn't just any sex offender, but an enigmatic billionaire who had once flown the likes of former President Bill Clinton and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak around the world on his own Boeing 727. Last spring, Epstein completed a 13-month sentence for soliciting prostitution from a minor in Palm Beach. Now he was hosting a party for his close friend, Britain's Prince Andrew, fourth in line to the throne.
Read more here.

Occurring with sickening speed

John Hinderaker writes at Powerline,
The “sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq” that Barack Obama and Joe Biden hailed as one of Obama’s “great achievements” in 2014 has regressed into chaos as a result of Obama’s premature withdrawal of American troops. But it isn’t just Iraq. Syria is the closest thing to Hell on Earth. Iran is working away on nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Yemen has fallen to Iran’s proxies. Saudi Arabia is looking for nuclear weapons to counter Iran’s. ISIS occupies an area the size of Great Britain. Libya, its dictator having been gratuitously overthrown by feckless Western governments that had no plan for what would follow, is a failed state and terrorist playground.

The Daily Mail has this map that shows ISIS closing in on Baghdad:


Hinderaker concludes,
It seems as though things couldn’t possibly get worse, but they almost certainly will. We are seeing the fruit of a set of policies that were based on the false premise that problems in the Middle East are mostly the fault of the United States. Not only were such policies misbegotten, they have been executed incompetently. The resulting collapse is occurring with sickening speed.
Read more here.

The most important story of the month

RIP

Elizabeth Price Foley at Instapundit links to this story about the media's sinking reputation, and concludes,
Mainstream media has died. RIP. All that’s left now is a bunch of progressive/liberal zombies out for ideological flesh. Most people know better than to listen to them anymore.

Will it be Hillary's Watergate?

Roger L. Simon wonders if the newest New York Times disclosure about Hillary and Sidney Blumenthal will be
another Watergate? Who knows? But it would be ironic. After all, that’s where Hillary got her start. Will it be where she gets her end?
Read more here.

“...since we’re retreating over there, we’d better get ready to fight them here.”

Brian Bennett reports at the L.A. Times,
Alarmed about the growing threat from Islamic State, the Obama administration has dramatically stepped up warnings of potential terrorist attacks on American soil after several years of relative calm.

Behind the scenes, U.S. authorities have raised defenses at U.S. military bases, put local police forces on alert and increased surveillance at the nation's airports, railroads, shopping malls, energy plants and other potential targets.

...U.S. counter-terrorism officials initially viewed Islamic State as primarily a regional security threat, focused on expanding and protecting its self-proclaimed Islamist caliphate in Syria and Iraq, rather than launching attacks abroad.

But the analysis has shifted sharply as gunmen inspired by the group, but not controlled or assisted by them, opened fire at the Parliament in Ottawa; at a cafe in Sydney, Australia; at a kosher grocery in Paris; and, on May 3, in Garland, Texas.
Read more here.
In linking to Bennett's article, Glenn Reynolds writes at Instapundit,
It used to be “fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here.” Now, I guess, it’s “since we’re retreating over there, we’d better get ready to fight them here.”

What are the best ways to combat inequality?

Richard Epstein writes at Hoover's Defining Ideas blog,
The critical political struggle of the 2016 presidential election may well be the redistribution of wealth. How that issue plays out is likely to depend on whether it is cast in terms of economic growth or income inequality. If the Republicans successfully push the growth agenda, then the Democrats will be on the defensive. If the Democrats drive home the theme of income inequality, then the Republicans will squirm. This is a contest that the Republicans should win if they play their cards correctly.

...Put simply, it is an intellectual fantasy to think that it is possible to address questions of inequality without taking into account any productivity losses that these proposals may take. Those difficulties do not arise if the first emphasis is placed instead upon the creation of wealth. Indeed it is altogether possible to improve the position of the worst off in society by a set of productive measures that widen the income gap between rich and poor.

Assume that we have just two groups in society, one of whose members all have wealth at the level of 10 and the second, far smaller, have wealth at the level of 1,000. A change in legal position that increases the wealth of the bottom group from 10 to 15 and the top group from 1,000 to 1,200 will increase absolute inequality even as it improves the position of the people at the bottom. Ironically, it will also give larger percentage increases to those at the bottom. Indeed, many social changes do produce gains across the board. But it is typically beyond the capacity of any social planner to steer productive activity in ways that ensure that whatever growth does take place will result in a reduction of any income gap by any system of state taxation and regulation.

This line of reasoning has not, of course, stopped the champions of income equality in the Democratic Party from pushing its front-running candidate, Hillary Clinton, into putting the inequality issue front and center during the current campaign.

...But it is a much harder position to think of how best to provide those “robust services” to get children out of poverty. On this score, the standard progressive line is to favor stronger unions within the framework of an overall public school system. But that system works for the benefits of the unions, and not for the benefit of the children who are denied access to charter schools, which provide better education to the children that they teach than ordinary public schools.

...Sensible policies to combat inequality follow from a consistent classical liberal position, which seeks to promote competition in the private market and in the provision of public education. The rest of the egalitarian program is counterproductive insofar as it keeps the poor worse while leaving the rich worse off as well. That is a strategy for dual ruin that will only deepen the current economic malaise.
Read more here.

What does not kill me makes me sadder

Did you know that
The swashbuckling George S. Patton, who braved death in his drive to Germany and was worried about his role in a peacetime world, was paralyzed in a minor traffic accident shortly after the Allied victory — and on the day before he was to go home and leave postwar Europe for good. He died not on the battlefield, but painfully in bed in a military hospital in Germany.

Victor Davis Hanson ponders today about sadness, irony, narcissism, and learning from pain:
At best, all we can do, I think in our ignorance of causation, is to cover our bets and tread lightly and remain observant — keeping humble and modest in occasional good fortune (given so often that our blessings turn out to be dependent on the work of other friends and benefactors), while staying resolute in more frequent times of chaos and disaster, to be able to help and offer sanctuary to others.

It is wise to remember the good dead and emulate their example rather than to be caught up with the mediocre of the present. I certainly spend more time recalling the voice of my mother than listening to the televised psychodramas of our elite. Faith and transcendence in the end matter most, whether for us who believe in God and an eternal soul, or for the more agnostic humanists who trust that one’s good works now can affect others following them, from raising good children to planting an olive tree.

...As parents age, they gain perspective and calm, but also at the cost of growing pessimism or even a dangerous sense of preordination. These can be deadly pathologies as they take away the necessary spirit and audacity, so important in getting up one more morning and heading on to the next mission. (My 86-year-old grandfather was putting in new end posts in the vineyard on the day before he had a heart attack and died; my 80-year-old Swedish grandfather was breaking a young horse in his last few months.)

All the clichés that you all have heard about losing a child, and which we all of the uninitiated may have found strange or foreign — “I wished it was me,” “How unfair that parents outlive children,” “How did I cause this,” “Why didn’t I do that or this,” “I should have been a better parent, listener, friend, helper, benefactor, etc.” — I assure you turn out hardly to be clichés, but simply reflect over the centuries what is innate in every parent’s brain in extremis.

As we age and try to make sense of nonsense, we have only the solace that what is inexplicable now will be most explicable soon, and that we are not natives, as we assume, here, but refugees from home somewhere else, and that what seems all too real and hopeless we hope is a just a dream of what will be soon very real and hopeful.

I would amend Nietzsche’s often quoted line, “from life’s school of war: what does not kill me makes me stronger,” to something like “what does not kill me, makes me sadder,” and leave it to fate whether sadder in the end proves stronger or wiser.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I try to read and excerpt everything VDH writes. This is the first time, though, that I was reduced to tears, as he tells us about his grandaughter and the death of his wonderful daughter Savannah. Read it here.

Monday, May 18, 2015

THEN SHE STOOD NEXT TO THE COFFINS OF THE DEAD AND LIED

Glenn Reynolds writes at Instapundit,

THEN SHE STOOD NEXT TO THE COFFINS OF THE DEAD AND LIED: Hillary Received Memo Describing Benghazi As Planned Terror Attack Within Hours. “New documents obtained by Judicial Watch and made public Monday show that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other senior officials under President Obama were given intelligence within hours of the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attack describing how it had been planned at least 10 days in advance ‘to kill as many Americans as possible.’”

Also, they locked up a filmmaker for a year, just to support their cover story. Nice people.

Obama administration knew al Qaeda was planning the attack in Benghazi ten days before it happened.

Kemberlee Kaye writes at Legal Insurrection that
After filing a FOIA suit, thanks to a court order Judicial Watch obtained documents from the Department of Defense and Department of State which indicate the Obama administration knew al Qaeda was planning the attack in Benghazi ten days before it happened. TEN DAYS.

For anyone interested in finding the truth of events, is there any organization more vital than Judicial Watch? I can't think of any. From Judicial Watch:
The new documents also provide the first official confirmation that shows the U.S. government was aware of arms shipments from Benghazi to Syria. The documents also include an August 2012 analysis warning of the rise of ISIS and the predicted failure of the Obama policy of regime change in Syria.

Read more here.

About that junior varsity

Ann Voskamp gives us her second post on her trip to Iraq.
ISIS sells nine year old girls in slave bazaars.

Click away, turn the other way if you want, but those girls are wild to turn and escape — and they can’t. They are categorized. Stripped. And shipped naked. Examined and distributed. Sold and passed around like meat. Livestock.

You can walk into any mall and buy a pair of NIKE running shoes for what they are buying a Christian or Yezidi girl from 1-9 years of age — $172 dollars. And she’s yours. For whatever you want, for as long as you want, to make do whatever you want. Sit with that. Yeah, we’re all done living in a world where a pair of shoes can last longer, have more worth, be treated with more value, than a fondled, raped and discarded 9 year-old-girl.

The United Nations reports this week that at least one young girl’s been “married” over 20 times — and forced at the end of each violation to undergo surgery to “restore” her virginity.

So it could be ripped open and destroyed by the next highest bidder.

Look — We’re all done with keeping up with the Kardashians or whatever flash of skin is being flaunted on red carpets — when there are little girls being devoured on bare concrete floors and we will keep company with Jesus and be the ones who do something about the things that breaks His heart.

I sit with 4 Yezidi mothers in a shipping container where they sleep.

They need someone to have enough courage to not turn away. That is us.

Sozan holds a swaddled baby in her lap on the floor.

No furniture. No beds. No running water in a shipping container.

She leans forward and whispers to me: “Our life was normal before. Our children went to school. Our families had homes, we worked hard.

ISIS takes everything. ISIS destroys our homes. We lose everything.

Now we’ve had to run here for our lives. We don’t speak the language here. We have nothing here.

Our children can’t go to school here. Our children wake with nightmares here — about everything that happened there.”

Sozan, Marwa, Leyla, these mothers sitting here — not one of these mothers were ever allowed to go to school — because they were girls.

Not one of them can read. Not one can write. Not one of them can even read or sign any letters of their name. They have been made invisible. Made invisible prey.

...How do you just sit on the floor of a shipping container and just let these women carry this kind of terror alone — how do you turn away and go back to your neat little life of wheaties and news reels and how does the church not stand up and howl?

...“We had to choose…” Sozan looks up at me. Mawra’s eyes are squeezed tight — like she’s trying to forget.

“We had to choose which children we could take — and which we had to leave behind.”

It’s like the air’s sucked out of the shipping container, out of the membranes of my lungs.

True, you’ve got to shoehorn yourself into the car because the baby needs you running liquid into their hunger as milk — but how do you turn to your boy and say — “We can’t get you in, Son. There’s no more room, Son.” There are words you lose in translation. Who in the world has categories for this?

No water anywhere — for any of our children. There is no food. Six of the children with us — six of my nieces and nephews” — she holds up her fingers — “six of them, they die. No water, no food.”

“We have to leave their bodies on the mountain. We have to cover them with stones. We can’t get dig down, we can’t down into the mountain to bury them. Too hard.”

I am trying not to see the faces of my own children.

Why in God’s holy name are we born into North American ease?
Read more here.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

It wasn't just WMDs

Weapons of mass destruction? Is that why Bush invaded Iraq in 2003? Michael Kennedy points to some other possibilities at Chicago Boyz.

No more airline competition

Look how airline stocks have risen in price in the last year.
Carl from Chicago writes at Chicago Boyz,
If you’ve flown much in the last few years, you’ve probably seen what I’ve experienced, as well – completely full planes, high prices, and aggravating extra charges for baggage, wi-fi, etc… This is really a symptom of what has actually occurred, which is that airlines have finally moved past an era of competition into an era of oligopoly.

The real indication of their new status isn’t the high prices and full planes – it is in the stock price.

...Each of the major airlines has predominantly broken their strong unions and taken medicine from bankruptcy to mergers in order to restore their finances. Instead of a focus on expansion, they are operationally focused in terms of filling every seat on every plane at the highest price possible, in terms of ticket costs and extra fees.

...The airlines received a huge windfall with declining fuel prices. If the industry was in a mode of high competition, you’d expect customer prices to fall as the airlines would be forced to pass on some of these benefits to the consumer since the costs would move closer to their marginal price. However, there has been no sign of price reductions – the airlines aren’t competing with each other (substantially) on price and each of them are going to use this windfall to buy back stock and pay higher dividends.

...Whatever thoughts you may have about the US airline industry, think again. Instead of being a competitive market ruled by expansionist companies, you have a cozy market with little competition where windfalls like low fuel prices and low interest rates (which help a capital intensive industry) will remain with the companies, not be passed on to consumers. And their long term threats aren’t US competitors, but foreign competition similar to those that ultimately upended US industries from autos to clothing to toys.
Read more here.

New York's only volcano

Missing documents

Is there a better investigative journalist than Sharyl Attkisson? Here is the Daily Signal list of missing documents she compiles going back to 1988:
A Medley of Missing Documents Through the Years:

Missing: Hillary Clinton S&L Records. In 1988, according to congressional investigators, Hillary Clinton “ordered the destruction of records relating to her [legal] representation of [Jim] McDougal’s Madison S&L” when federal regulators were investigating the insolvency of the Arkansas savings and loan. Bill Clinton was Arkansas governor at the time.

The Clintons and McDougal were business partners in the failed Whitewater real estate venture. McDougal later was convicted of fraud for attempting to use S&L funds to cover Whitewater losses. His wife, Susan, served prison time for refusing to answer grand jury questions about whether Bill Clinton lied in his testimony during her Whitewater trial.

Missing: Clinton Counsel’s Foster Records. In 1993, according to a Secret Service official, first lady Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff, Maggie Williams, removed records from the office of White House Deputy Counsel Vincent Foster the night of his suicide.

Other Clinton officials, including White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum, later testified that they conducted an improper search of Foster’s office. At least one file was marked “Whitewater” and another was marked “taxes.”

Another White House counsel, Bob Barnett, later picked up a box of Foster’s documents. Associate counsel Clifford Sloan’s contemporaneous notes cite the Clintons’ initials: “get Maggie—go through office—get HRC, WJC stuff.”

Missing: Clinton Counsel’s Foster Suicide Note. Also in 1993, the White House released an official statement incorrectly saying that no Foster suicide note had been found. However, more than 24 hours after a note had been found, White House counsel Nussbaum turned it over to Attorney General Janet Reno.

Missing: Hillary Clinton Law Firm Records. In 1996, after nearly two years of searches and subpoenas, the White House reported it found copies of missing documents from Hillary Rodham Clinton’s law firm that described her work for Madison S&L in the 1980s. The White House previously said it did not have the records. The originals have not turned up.

Missing: Bush Administration Energy Emails. In 2002, the conservative watchdog Judicial Watch said more than 25,000 documents were missing from records released regarding deliberations between Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force and industry executives, possibly including documents related to the Enron scandal.

Missing: Clinton Terrorism Documents. In 2003, former Clinton national security adviser Sandy Berger smuggled classified documents related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks from the National Archives. Berger said he removed handwritten notes by hiding them in his jacket, pants and socks, and also inadvertently took copies of classified documents.

Missing: Bush Administration ‘Torture’ Documents. In 2004, critics of the Bush administration’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” for suspected terrorists, which they regarded as torture, said key documents were missing from newly declassified White House materials regarding torture and other mistreatment of prisoners. These included memos to and from the FBI and CIA, and documents dated after April 2003.

Missing: Millions of Bush Administration Emails. In 2005, the White House discovered some emails were not properly archived. It later was revealed that missing emails from Jan. 3, 2003 to July 28, 2005 might total 5 million.

Lost and Found: Katrina Conference Call Transcript. Also in 2005, Bush administration officials told Congress that they could not locate a transcript of an Aug. 29 videoconference call about Hurricane Katrina. Officials produced a transcript in 2006.

Missing: Bush Administration’s Abramoff Emails. In 2006, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald found that missing emails from the 2003 period could be relevant to the criminal probe into influence peddling by lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who later was convicted of bribery and corruption.

Missing: Bush Administration Political Emails. In 2007, it was revealed that 88 White House officials used Republican National Committee email accounts — but that the RNC preserved no emails for 51 of the officials.

Missing: Bush Administration Interrogation Video. Also in 2007, it was discovered that the Pentagon had lost a crucial recording of an al-Qaeda operative being interrogated in a U.S. military brig.

Withheld: Obama Administration ‘Fast and Furious’ Documents. In 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder withheld emails regarding the “Fast and Furious “scandal. President Obama invoked executive privilege to prevent some emails from being turned over to Congress under subpoena.

Missing: Obama State Department Records. This year, it was revealed that the State Department may have lost some $6 billion because of incomplete or missing contract records over six years, mainly during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.

Missing: Obama Administration IRS Emails. Also this year, the Internal Revenue Service said it had lost key emails of Lois Lerner and other officials regarding improper IRS targeting of conservative nonprofit groups.

Missing: Obama HealthCare.gov Records. Also this year, the Obama administration revealed that records Congress is seeks in its investigation of the Obamacare website, HealthCare.gov, are missing.

Missing: Obama EPA Records. Also this year, the Environmental Protection Agency told Congress it was having trouble finding emails relevant to a probe into the environmental impact of a proposed gold and copper mine in the Bristol Bay watershed in Alaska. In a separate case, a federal judge found that the EPA willfully failed to keep emails and other records relevant to a Freedom of Information Act request regarding the delay of unpopular regulations until after the 2012 election.

Missing?: Hillary Clinton Benghazi Documents. Also this year, former Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell said he witnessed a Benghazi document-sorting session in October 2012 in the State Department basement. He said then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, and her deputy, Jake Sullivan, were present.

Missing: Obama EPA Text Messages. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency said it didn’t save text messages at issue in a Freedom of Information case seeking records about the agency’s plans to crack down on coal power plants. An EPA spokesman contends that federal law doesn’t require the messages to be retained.

"Loathsome"


Cheryl Mills, left, was Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff and former White House counsel who defended President Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial. (Photo: Newscom)
Sharyl Attkisson writes at Daily Signal,
To Sonya Gilliam, a recent account of improper sorting of Benghazi-related documents at the State Department brought back vivid memories of her own encounters with high-level government officials who withheld, deleted or destroyed public records.

And one name stood out for its familiarity: Cheryl Mills.

A former deputy assistant secretary of state had told The Daily Signal that Mills was present during an after-hours document operation in a basement room of the State Department in October 2012. Mills was chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The purpose of the session, former State Department official Raymond Maxwell said, was to “separate” documents damaging to Clinton before records were turned over to an independent review board probing the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

Two years into the investigations, on April 3, 1996, Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and 34 others were killed in a plane crash while on an official trade mission in Croatia. Brown recently had been served with a deposition notice regarding the alleged sale of trade mission seats.

Evidence revealed a “flurry of document shredding in the [Commerce] secretary’s office” following his death. The document obstruction, which continued for years, is detailed in a 1998 federal court ruling.

Judge Calls Mills’ Behavior ‘Loathsome’ in Other Case

In a separate case involving missing documents that was brought against the FBI in 1997, Lamberth found no obstruction or conspiracy but referred to Mills’ conduct as a White House official as “loathsome.”

Lamberth faulted Mills for making “the most critical error in this entire fiasco”: learning of missing White House emails but not taking proper steps to resolve the situation.

“Mills’ actions were totally inadequate to address the problem,” Lamberth concluded.

And she gives Maxwell a great deal of credit for speaking up about what he saw in the State Department basement in October 2012.

“I never met Ray Maxwell,” Gilliam told The Daily Signal. “I don’t know Ray Maxwell. But I am Ray Maxwell because I lived Ray Maxwell’s story. And I felt compelled to say something.”

The account of Cheryl Mills told by Raymond Maxwell, former assistant deputy secretary of state, sounds familiar to Sonya Gilliam. (Photo: Sharyl Attkisson)
Read more here.

Arms race

Bill Sanderson reports in the New York Post,
Saudi Arabia will join the nuclear club by buying “off the shelf” atomic weapons from Pakistan, US officials told a London newspaper.

The Saudis — who financed much of Pakistan’s nuke program — are fearful of international efforts to keep its enemy Iran from acquiring a bomb, the Sunday Times of London reports. The Saudis think the deal, backed by President Obama, will actually accelerate Iran’s nuke push.

Saudi Arabia has talked for years about acquiring a bomb from the Pakistanis. “The House of Saud has now made the strategic decision to move forward,” a former US defense official said.

Disturbed

Investigative reporter Charles Johnson at Got News reports that the engineer responsible for the Amtrack train derailment is a gay activist who posts photos of his penis on the internet. Charles has the story and the pics here.

"Failing to prepare is preparing to fail"


Have you ever had to undergo a polygraph test? I haven't, but there is a man who will help you pass it. David Kravets writes at ars technica about this man:

A 69-year-old former Oklahoma police officer has pleaded guilty to five obstruction of justice and mail fraud charges in connection to an indictment accusing him of teaching people to successfully cheat on lie detector tests.
Read more here.
Glenn Reynolds has two observations about this case:
THIS SHOULD BE PROTECTED BY THE FIRST AMENDMENT. ALSO, POLYGRAPHS ARE UNSCIENTIFIC WITCH-DOCTOR-STUFF THAT SHOULDN’T BE ALLOWED ANYWAY.

The powers Hillary Clinton wants the federal government to wield

John Hinderaker writes at Powerline that
Hillary Clinton says that as president, she would have a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees: they must promise to vote to overturn the Citizens United case.

It is easy to understand why Hillary isn’t fond of Citizens United. The case involved a film called Hillary: The Movie that was critical of her. In Citizens United, the Supreme Court held that it was unconstitutional to criminalize showings of Hillary within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election, simply because the movie (like all movies) was produced by a corporation.

...Has there ever been a time when free speech is popular? Perhaps not; certainly not today. Not on the left. But those who might consider supporting Hillary Clinton for president should think carefully about the powers she wants the federal government to wield.
Read more here.

Media corruption

At the Washington Post Eric Wemple analyzes how ABC News shafted the Washington Free Beacon on the Stephanopoulis story.

How do you know?

My friend Curt Dale, himself a Viet Nam era pilot, sent this to me:
An air traffic control tower suddenly lost
communication with a small twin engine aircraft.
A moment later the tower land line rang and
was answered by one of the employees.

The passenger riding with the pilot who
lost communications was on a cellular
phone and yelled, "MAYDAY, MAYDAY !!!
The pilot had an instant and fatal heart attack.
I grabbed his cell phone out of his pocket
and he had told me before we took off, that
he had the tower on his speed dial memory.

I am flying upside down at 18,000 feet
and traveling at 180 mph. MAYDAY, MAYDAY !!!"


The employee in the tower had put him
on speaker phone immediately.
"Calm down, we acknowledge you, and
we’ll guide you down after a few questions.
The first thing is not to panic, remain calm!!".

He began his series of questions:

Tower:
"How do you know you are traveling at 18,000 feet??"

Aircraft:
"I can see that it reads 18,000 feet
on the altimeter dial in front of me."


Tower:
"Okay, that’s good, remain calm. How do you
know you’re traveling at 180 mph?"

Aircraft:
"I can see that it reads 180 mph on
the airspeed dial in front of me."

Tower:
"Okay, this is great so far, but
it’s heavily overcast, so how do you
know you're flying upside down?"

Aircraft:
“The shit in my pants is running out of my shirt collar !!!”

Environmental utopian ideas

No water. No farmer. No food.

Pointless

Why is the media asking the presidential candidates all the wrong questions? Pete Hoekstra writes in the Washington Examiner,
Asking presidential candidates whether they support or would change past foreign policy decisions is the most common line of questioning among members of the media. It's also the most pointless.

Should President Clinton have killed Osama bin Laden when he had the opportunity in 1990s? Should President Bush have sent the U.S. military into Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein in 2003? Should President Obama have withdrawn all troops from Iraq in 2011?

Such questions provide no real insight into future considerations. Whether or not they would have done anything differently no longer matters. Besides, since when is hindsight not 20/20?

Here is today's reality: Iraq is aflame, Afghanistan rests on perilous ground, Yemen has descended into chaos, Libya has devolved into a failed state and the Islamic State not only threatens many parts of Africa but also inspires pledges of solidarity from around the world, including in the United States.

Earlier this month, jihadists from Arizona drove to a Muhammad cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, to massacre hundreds of people. They might have succeeded if not for an off-duty traffic officer who skillfully killed them before they could harm anybody.

Americans are becoming increasingly frustrated — if not outright angry — as they read daily headlines such as "Enemy Inside: ISIS the 'Greatest Threat since 9/11,'" "DHS Secretary: 'New phase' in the global terrorist threat" and "Former CIA official cites agency's failure to see al-Qaeda's rebound."

The U.S. is losing the war against radical Islamists, and Americans want to know if there is anybody capable of doing anything about it. They are pleading for a commander in chief who can shine in the following three areas.

First, the next president must identify and define the Islamist terror threat. It is the proverbial 800-lb. gorilla that too few politicians seem to want to acknowledge. We can no longer stumble along with different descriptions of who the terrorists are and what motivates them or debate whether they pose a serious danger at all. The task becomes more urgent by the day as their sphere of influence broadens beyond the Middle East and North Africa.

Second, we need a leader who is willing to examine the successes and mistakes of the last three administrations — and to do so honestly and without political bias. All three are guilty of serious policy errors that have cost us dearly. Nobody today would describe Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria or Libya as success stories. Some today, including me, describe them as abject failures. An effective leader of the free world will understand the need to step back and fully absorb the lessons they provide.

Third, we need a president who can unite the country and build a consensus about the menaces we face and how to defeat them. We also need other public officials who will eschew partisanship and work for the common good.

The media should probe and challenge candidates to help voters understand their views on foreign policy. Questions should include: What lessons have you learned from past foreign policy decisions? How will they shape your vision as commander in chief? What is America's role in the world?

No president can amend the past, and the public is tired of candidates who simply point fingers instead of offering their own solutions. They want a leader who will describe the threats as they are and rally the country behind a strategy to defeat them.

We cannot know how current decisions will affect the future. But we know that if we don't confront our current threats, the leaders of tomorrow will turn around and rightfully ask: "What were you thinking?"

High school QB fulfills 4th-grade vow to take girl with Down syndrome to prom

Rebekah Lowin writes at Today.com,
Ben Moser and Mary Lapkowicz were fourth-grade classmates when he promised her he'd take her to prom. And on May 8, seven years later, he did just that.

... Mary has Down syndrome, and Ben is the quarterback of his high school's football team in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

"Watching Ben and Mary in 4th grade always made me smile," their teacher, Tracey Spogli, told TODAY. "Ben was always so protective of Mary and genuinely cared for her, and it was evident in his actions and words. He would keep an eye on her, just wanting her to be happy and involved in our classroom activities."



Ben's mother, Linda Moser, expressed her great pride and happiness in a Facebook post.

"Today was probably the proudest I have ever been of my son in his lifetime to date!" she wrote. "He has grown into a man with a big heart, a deep sense of putting others first, and most of all making people feel special and loved."
Read more here.
Thanks to Bookworm Room

"I'm fragile, right? You made me that way!"

From the John Q. Public blog:
Kayce M. Hagen is a pen name assumed by an active duty enlisted airman. She wrote the following words to capture her thoughts after attending mandatory annual training given by her base’s Sexual Assault Response Coordination (SARC) office.

You made me a victim today, and I am nobody’s victim. I am an American Airman in the most powerful Air Force in the world, and you made me into a helpless whore. A sensitive, defenseless woman who has no power to protect herself, who has nothing in common with the men she works with. You made me untouchable, and by doing that you made me a target. You gave me a transparent parasol, called it an umbrella and told me to stand idly by while you placed everything from rape to inappropriate shoulder brushes in a crowded hallway underneath it. You put my face up on your slides; my face, my uniform, my honor, and you made me hold this ridiculous contraption of your own devising and called me empowered. You called me strong. You told me, and everyone else who was listening to you this morning that I had a right to dictate what they said. That I had a right to dictate what they looked at. That I had a right to dictate what they listened to. That somehow, in my shop, I was the only person who mattered. That they can’t listen to the radio because they might play the Beatles, or Sir Mix-A-Lot, and that I might be offended. That if someone plays a Katy Perry song, I might have flashbacks to a night where I made a bad decision. I might be hurt, and I’m fragile right? Of course I am, you made me that way.

You are the reason I room alone when I deploy. You are the reason that wives are terrified that their husbands are cheating on them when they leave, and I leave with them. When I walk into a room and people are laughing and having a good time, you are the reason they take one look at me and either stop talking or leave. They’re afraid. They’re afraid of me, and it’s because of you. They are afraid that with all of this “power” I have, I can destroy them. They will never respect me or the power and the authority I have as a person, or the power I have as an Airman, because I am nothing more than a victim. That I as a victim, somehow I control their fate. With one sentence, I can destroy the rest of their lives.

I say enough. He didn’t assault me, you did; and I say enough is enough. If you want to help me, you need to stop calling me a victim. If you want to save me, you need to help me to be equal in the eyes of the people I work with. If you want to change a culture, you need to lessen the gap between men and women, not widen it. Women don’t need their own set of rules: physical training scores, buildings, rooms, raters, sponsors, deployment buddies. When I can only deploy with another woman ‘buddy’ you are telling me and the people around me that I can’t take care of myself. When you forbid me from going into my male friends room to play X-Box on a deployment with the other people on my shift, you isolate me. When you isolate me, you make me a target. When you make me a target, you make me a victim. You don’t make me equal, you make me hated. If I am going to be hated, it will be because of who I am, not because of who you have made me. I am not a victim. I am an American Airman, I am a Warrior, and I have answered my nation’s call.

Help me be what I am, or be quiet and get out of my way.
Read more here.
Thanks to Bookworm Room

Corrupt governments, dead bloggers

Adam Chandler writes in The Atlantic about the final posts of a murdered blogger.
Earlier this week, as he left for work, Ananta Bijoy Das was ambushed by four masked men outside his home in Sylhet, Bangladesh. Armed with machetes, the men—suspected Islamist militants—hacked Das to death in broad daylight on a busy street in the country’s fifth-largest city.

Das’s crime was that he blogged. A writer critical of religious fundamentalism and enthusiastic about science, his fate matched that of two other men, Avijit Roy and Washiqur Rahman, who were killed in similar fashion in Bangladesh in February and March, respectively, for writing on and promoting secular themes in a country where 90 percent of the population is Muslim.

...Das was a citizen of a nominally secular state. But that state has been failing to safeguard free speech and demand accountability for machete-wielding fundamentalists. Das wasn’t the first blogger killed; he was the third in three months. Bangladeshi politics are polarized between secular and Islamist camps, and, according to the BBC, the government has recently been cracking down “on civil liberties and freedom of speech … affecting both religious fundamentalists and those who argue for free speech and for faith to be separate from government.”

...Das’s government wasn’t the only one that failed to protect him. “The week prior to his death the Swedish embassy had rejected Mr Das’s application for a visa,” The Economist reported. “He had proposed to make only a short trip to Sweden, but the embassy staff surmised that he would have had plenty of reason to try staying, once he got in.”
Read more here.

Oil price war to continue

Next week is the semi-annual meeting of the OPEC oil cartel. Saudi Arabia continues to hope that their strategy of not cutting production will help them compete with U.S. shale firms. American Interest writes,
But U.S. firms haven’t assumed that role as readily as the Saudis would have hoped. Rather, they’ve been hard at work innovating their way to profitability even at $65 per barrel. True, shale growth is expected to slow this year and the next, but it isn’t going away. Combine that with production growth from other non-OPEC producers, and what the cartel is left with is a longer-term price war than it likely bargained for.
Read more here.

"Facilitators"



That's how Hillary's brother, Tony Rodham, describes himself. Colin Campbell writes in Business Insider about Tony Rodham's history of profiting from his connections to his sister.
"I deal through the Clinton Foundation. That gets me in touch with the Haitian officials," Tony said. "I hound my brother-in-law, because it's his fund that we're going to get our money from. ... And he keeps telling me, 'Oh, it's going to happen tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.' Well, tomorrow hasn’t come yet."

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's two brothers, Tony and Hugh Rodham, could be a problem for her presidential campaign. Over the years, the pair has been at the center of multiple controversies for their business dealings and Republicans are already using them to attack Clinton.

One aide for a rival 2016 campaign told Business Insider that Clinton's brothers will definitely cause issues for her White House bid.

"Will they be a problem? Yes. They underscore everything that people fear and hate about the Clintons," the aide said. "They're essentially the id of Bill and Hillary Clinton. A bunch of money-grubbing and opportunistic hillbillies with no sense of ethics, decency, or even legality."

Indeed, while Hugh Rodham has yet to make headlines this cycle, last weekend, the New York Times published a story delving into Clinton's youngest brother, Tony Rodham. The paper reported he had repeatedly tried to profit from his connection to the former first family.

The newspaper pointed to a wide range of Tony Rodham's business activities including a Haitian gold mining venture and speeches he gave before Chinese investor conferences and a California cosmetics company.

"The connections to the Clintons have given Mr. Rodham, a self-described 'facilitator,' a unique appeal and a range of opportunities," The Times' Steve Eder wrote. "But his business dealings have often invited public scrutiny and uncomfortable questions for the Clintons."

Earlier this year, Tony Rodham was linked to alleged political favors in a report published by the Department of Homeland Security's investigator general. The report criticized a top DHS employee for appearing to go out of his way in 2010 and 2011 to assist "a politically connected regional center," where Tony was listed as the CEO.

The Times cited several other instances where Tony Rodham had tried to use his influence. After the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, former President Bill Clinton helped lead the recovery commission. According to the paper, Tony pressured his brother-in-law for funds. Tony himself reportedly discussed the arrangement in court proceedings that "were the result of a lawsuit over unpaid legal bills filed by his lawyer in a child support case."

"I deal through the Clinton Foundation. That gets me in touch with the Haitian officials," Tony said. "I hound my brother-in-law, because it's his fund that we're going to get our money from. ... And he keeps telling me, 'Oh, it's going to happen tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.' Well, tomorrow hasn’t come yet."

"The New York Times delves into Tony Rodham’s practice using the family name to secure controversial business deals as a 'facilitator,'" wrote Raj Shah, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. "This comes amid scrutiny of Bill Clinton’s six-figure speaking fees, controversial foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation and other eyebrow raising money making endeavors to 'pay our bills.'"

And Tony Rodham isn't the only one of Clinton's siblings who could invite unwanted scrutiny during her White House bid.



Hugh Rodham, the middle sibling, was once described as the "the Billy Carter of the Clinton administration" for a pair of controversies caused by his business ventures.

In one instance, Hugh, who is often called "Hughie," accepted $400,000 in fees from two felons who were issued pardons by President Bill Clinton.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/hillary-clintons-brothers-tony-and-hugh-rodham-2015-5#ixzz3aQ4s6Pke

Are you ready for your bionic brain?


Illustration: iStockphoto
Dexter Johnson writes in IEEE SPECTRUM that
researchers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia have built on their previous work developing ultra-fast nano-scale memories. They used a functional oxide ultra-thin film to create one of the world’s first electronic multi-state memory cells. The researchers claim that the memristive devices they have developed mimic the brain’s ability to simultaneously process and store multiple strands of information.

...The researchers believe that these nanoscale memory devices promise a future of artificial intelligence network that could enable a so-called bionic brain.

...Nili suggests that one of the potential applications for these nano-memory devices could be in replicating the human brain outside of the human body.

Nili added: “If you could replicate a brain outside the body, it would minimize ethical issues involved in treating and experimenting on the
brain which can lead to better understanding of neurological conditions.”
Read more here.

Pitting groups against each other

Elizabeth Price Foleywrites,
Pitting groups against each other, based on their race, is a disastrous way to operate higher education (or anything else) in a pluralistic society. But this is exactly what affirmative action does.
She links to an article in the Washington Post about a lawsuit filed by Asian Americans alleging discrimination in Harvard admissions.

Shell should be allowed to drill in the Arctic

Kleptocracy: A government characterized by rampant greed and corruption. (www.thefreedictionary.com)
Glenn Reynolds reminds us that
many of the world’s worst actors are oil kleptocracies. The more oil we produce, the less money they have.
Glenn links to this editorial in USA Today recommending that Shell be allowed to drill for oil in the Arctic.
Actually, in some ways, drilling in the Chukchi Sea is less risky than in the Gulf of Mexico, where BP notoriously lost control of its Macondo well five years ago in one of the worst spills in history. The BP well was in 5,000 feet of water, which made capping the blowout fiendishly difficult; in Alaska, Shell will be drilling in just 140 feet of water.

Well pressures will also be as much as five times less in Alaska, which lowers the risk of a blowout. Given the weather, the allowable drilling season is very short, running from July through part of October.

...Finally, the U.S. needs the kind of oil that could be found off Alaska. Alternative energy provided 7% of the country's energy needs in 1990. A quarter century later, that has grown to barely 10%. Estimates of recoverable oil in the Arctic offshore run as high as 30 billion barrels, equal to some of the biggest oil fields in the world.

Producing that oil will take a decade or more, which means decisions made today will affect consumers in 2025 or later. That's prudent planning. Shell should go ahead.
Read more here.

Incompetent or mendacious, or both?

That's what Elizabeth Price Foley is wondering, as she links to a Stephen Dinan article in the Washington Times. Dinan wrote,
The Obama administration blamed a technology glitch for why it continued to approve new amnesty applications in February, even after a federal judge issued an injunction, telling the court late Friday that they are now begging about 2,000 illegal immigrants to tear up their three-year work authorizations.

...President Obama’s lawyers are desperately trying to head off punishment by Judge Hanen after several embarrassing missteps.
Read more here.

A Rolling Stone gathers no moss, or verifiable facts, or even the tiniest morsels of journalistic integrity

Inequality: Hillary's singular life achievement

Noemie Emery writes at Weekly Standard about Hillary's history of amassing financial and political power.
The Clinton machine is best explained as a wondrous contraption designed to funnel cash to Bill Clinton, with a million or two tossed now and then in the way of the needy, along with a supply of fascinating new friends, ready to fly him to beautiful islands, in the pursuit of women and song.

And what did Hillary hope to get from all this, beyond a share in the family fortunes? Much the same thing that she got when she lived in the White House as first lady during the years that she ran for the Senate, namely a series of glamorous feel-good occasions meant to showcase her as a species of royalty, altruistic, benevolent, and above it all.

...The Democrats may want to run on inequality, but they should look for some other candidate to do it, and not someone who has made inequality, when it heavily tilts in her direction, her singular calling and life’s achievement.
Read more here

Casual slander

Mark Hemingway writes at the Weekly Standard that President Obama made these remarks recently while on a panel discussion at Georgetown University: “Despite great caring and concern,” [Obama] said, “when it comes to what are you really going to the mat for, what's the defining issue, when you're talking in your congregations, what's the thing that is really going to capture the essence of who we are as Christians, or as Catholics, or what have you, that this”—fighting poverty—“is often times viewed as a 'nice to have' relative to an issue like abortion.”

Hemingway responds,
Nice to have? What would be nice to have is a president who's not so divorced from the reality of American Christians that he thinks he has the moral authority to more or less slander millions of well-intentioned Christians. Their lives and the things they care about could not be more different than how it is casually being characterized by a president who has apparently turned the White House into an Ivory Tower.

...Of course, it's been just over two weeks since Obama's solicitor general warned the Supreme Court that if the White House gets its way on gay marriage, churches could be stripped of their tax exempt status. This would have devastating ramifications for the efforts of churches combatting poverty, but when the White House is so engaged in projection that they think that all churches care about is abortion, it starts to explain how they could do something so obviously damaging to the poor and still live with themselves.
Read more here.

Legislating from the bureaucracy

Should we expect any better from Hillary should she become president? William Jacobson, writing in Washington Examiner, doesn't think so;
in fact, I think we can expect worse.

Consider that Hillary went off the government grid to conduct her official business by setting up a private server at her home that was controlled by her personal staff.

...The server scandal is a metaphor for the old Hillary — opaque, controlling, paranoid, ruthless and power-hungry. It's proof that she hasn't changed.

...Campaign consultants can remake a candidate's image, but they can't remake the candidate herself. A President Clinton would almost certainly face a Republican House of Representatives in 2017, if not a Republican-controlled Congress.

Rather than trying to work with such a Congress, Hillary has made it clear she would be even more aggressive than Obama in expanding presidential power at the expense of Congress and the Constitution.
Read more here.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Arrogant, tough, and smart

Spengler argues in PJ Media that Ted Cruz is intellectually arrogant, and that quality will make him a good president.
Ted Cruz is intellectually arrogant, like Ronald Reagan. The difference is that Reagan masked his arrogance with self-deprecating humor. Sen. Cruz does a Reagan impression that would do a nightclub comedian proud, but he doesn’t have Reagan’s easy and spontaneous humor.

One doesn’t think of Reagan as arrogant, but he was in fact the most arrogant leader we have had since Lincoln. He ignored the whole of the foreign policy establishment in his conviction that America stood to win the Cold War and bring down Communism. Then as now, the foreign policy establishment resembled Jonathan Swift’s scientists on the floating island of Laputa, treading perilously close to the edge with noses in the air.

Sen. Cruz is authentically bright, sufficiently so for the liberal Alan Dershowitz to declare that he was the best student he had ever had at Harvard’s Law School. The conservative legal theorist Robert P. George, who taught Cruz at Princeton, says the same thing. He’s so smart that he is not the least impressed by the conservative foreign policy establishment.

That’s what qualifies Ted Cruz for the presidency.

...Things looked bad when Ronald Reagan came into office. Most of the intellectual elite in Europe as well as the US thought that Russia would win the Cold War. Of course, Reagan had one gigantic advantage: the US was the only venue in the world where an entrepreneur could raise money for disruptive new technologies. The talent of the world came to America, while Russia and China remained paralyzed by Communism and Europe remained moribund. That’s not true today: China and other Asian countries are innovating, in some cases faster than we are. If you don’t believe me, visit the Science Park in Shenzhen where Tencent and other Chinese computer firms have facilities. The next president will have a much tougher mission. Sen. Cruz is the only candidate who is tough, smart and arrogant enough to do the job.
Go here to read Spengler's views of Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Scott Walker.

Suspended with pay


This photo shows Lori Riley Whitley, 38, and her husband, Gary Nelson Whitley Jr., 41 of Zebulon, N.C. (Johnston's County Sheriff's Office)
From Fox News:
A North Carolina third-grade teacher was accused Friday of cooking up meth with her husband in a home they shared with their 8-year-old son.

Lori Riley Whitely, 38, was charged with operating a meth lab and endangering a child after police raided her Johnston County home, authorities said. Her 41-year-old husband, Gary Whitley, was also busted.

Wake County school officials suspended Whitley from her job teaching third-graders at Wendell Elementary School after her arrest. The school district said she has been a teacher at Wendaell since 2002. She was suspended with pay, officials said.
Read more here.

Thanks to Thomas Lipson

Irony



Thanks to Charles Lipson

Joy



Thanks to Michael D. Brown

Trendsetter

Naive and plain wrong

Find one, Charlie. Charlie Rose is reduced to finger wagging and interrupting, by an atheist who does a better job defending Christianity than most Christians.

Ace of Spades has this on the Stephanopoulis story

It was actually the Free Beacon's Andrew Stiles who discovered Stephanopoulos' donations to the Fund for Clinton Financial Health. He called George Stephanopoulos about it, to get comment, per regular journalistic decorum, and I guess he actually was put in touch with a PR person at ABC.

What Team Stephanopoulos did was this: While Stiles was waiting for comment -- affording them the chance to comment -- Team Stephanopolous called Politico and "disclosed" the donations to them, making it seem as if Stephanopoulos was doing so voluntarily and on his own conscience.

The media then edited out the Free Beacon from the story -- to deny them credit, to puff up the friendly leftist "mainstream" media generally, and to falsely imply Stephanopoulos was self-disclosing, rather than being forced to after Andrew Stiles discovered his grubby secret.

Friday, May 15, 2015

"Most distinctive" cause of death in each state

From Newser:
A map that shows the leading cause of death in each state would show the usual culprits of heart disease and cancer all over the place. But things get more interesting in a map that shows the "most distinctive" cause of death in each state — the one that "stands out most relative to its national average," explains the Washington Post.
Here is the map from the Centers for Disease Control:

Thanks to Ace of Spades blog

Forgetting to disclose

Kudos to the Washington Free Beacon for doing the research to uncover the $75,000 donation made by ABC anchor George Stephanopolis to the Foundation for the Clintons.

Andrew Stiles writes in the Free Beacon,
Conservative commentators, meanwhile, complained about Stephanopoulos’s “aggressively” dismissive questioning, and took issue with a former Clinton operative asking Schweizer, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, about his “partisan interest” in writing Clinton Cash. Jonathan H. Adler at the Washington Post argued that while there was nothing wrong with Stephanopoulos making note of Schweizer’s ties to Republicans, ABC News viewers should have also been reminded of the host’s connection to the Clintons, the politicians at the center of the discussion.

“If Schweizer’s former funders and employers are relevant to ABC News, George Stephanopoulos’s should be as well,” Adler wrote. “Simple disclosure in the context of a news segment is not too much to ask.”

Stephanopoulos was hit with accusations of bias back in 2012 when, while moderating a Republican primary debate, he somewhat randomly asked Mitt Romney about a decades-old Supreme Court case concerning a state’s right to ban contraception. ABC News is one of several networks chosen to host a Republican primary debate in the 2016 cycle.

Speaking of 2016, kudos also to Utah Senator Mike Lee, who announced that he won’t appear on ABC until Stephanopoulos recuses himself from all 2016 coverage. Here's Alahpundit at Hot Air:
Exit question via Andrew Stiles, who broke this story: What did Stephanopoulos mean when he acknowledged recently that donors to the Clinton Foundation typically expect something in return for their donations? Has Steph, perchance, heard from anyone at Team Hillary about a White House job if and when she’s elected? He must have a good reason to have risked whatever credibility he’d earned over the years as an “impartial” political reporter by insisting on grilling Peter Schweizer himself rather than farming out that assignment to someone who didn’t have a conflict of interest.

Actually, here’s a better exit question: How many other members of the media have donated to the Slush Fund Foundation and “forgotten” to disclose?

Oh, by the way: Turns out Stephanopoulos gave $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation, not $50,000 as was earlier reported, and his donations stretch back three years. That’s a long time to “forget” disclosure.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Comparing Garland to Selma


At Breitbart, John Nolte compares Garland, Texas to Selma, Alabama. He makes six points, and backs each with persuasive reasoning. Here are the six points of comparison:
1. The Oppressor Chooses the Form of Protest, Not the Protester
2. The Deliberatively Provocative Symbolism of the Site of the Protest
3. A Righteous Cause for Civil Rights
4. I Come In Peace
5. Democrat Bigots Victim-Blame
6. For the Righteous Cause of Freedom, People Risk Their Lives
Read more here.

Shaming, harassment, humiliation, and kissing up

Daniel Henninger has some thoughts in the Wall Street Journal about the recent get together of Pope Francis and Raul Castro.
For starters, we posit a hypothetical: Let us assume that instead of being the pope, Francis was just a guy in Cuba named Jorge Mario Bergoglio, living in Havana. If this guy no one had heard of summoned the courage to say something in public as harsh about Castro’s communist system as the pope did about capitalism, Raúl would do any number of things to Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

Raúl would have the Cuban police grab him off the street and drive him far outside Havana, where they would beat him up and abandon him. Or they would dump Jorge in prison, where he’d get beaten some more and better not get sick because medical treatment for political dissidents is hard to come by. Or a mob might show up to scream obscenities at him anytime he showed up in public.

Shaming, harassment and humiliation is what Raúl and Fidel have done to, among many others, the Ladies in White, who are wives of jailed dissidents, and who march in Havana to—of all things—Sunday Mass. What they find on the way to Mass is not fellow communicant Raúl but his mobs or police, which routinely attack them.

We know this because Raúl’s brutal modus operandi for critics of Cuba’s system is described at length in reports by the U.S. State Department and Human Rights Watch. But the Castros’ celebrity status with international elites transcends anything they do, and so Cuba is a member of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.

Last weekend German Chancellor Angela Merkel went to Russia to honor the Russian soldiers who died in World War II. But while in Moscow, Ms. Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, said directly to Vladimir Putin: “I would like also to recall that the end of World War II did not bring democracy and freedom for all of Europe.”

Would that one of these men of the world had the guts to say that to Fidel’s face in Havana.
Read more here.